Watford Women Centre opened for the first time in November 1989 through the work of a group of women involved in the support of victims of domestic abuse and rape. Initially it was run entirely by volunteers and through donations, such as its first premises – a porta-kabin next to St. Mary’s Churchyard, offered by the Council. The services at this stage consisted of weekly drop-in sessions, which provided a forum in which women could openly talk about their individual concerns and get the support they needed. From its onset, its central location and indiscriminate approach ensured ample access to women from all walks of life.
Consolidation of the initial work happened through the appointment of a full-time co-ordinator, funded by Watford Borough Council, and the move to new premises, in Charter Place, which enabled the extension of the work being done through more days of the week and more services to a wider audience.
From its initial approach of supporting victims of domestic abuse and rape, the WWC now extended their services to support a wider array of needs and interests, such as: mothers (“Mother & Toddler Group”, “Support Group for Mothers”), women in search of counselling, alternative therapies, assertiveness techniques and workshops – designed to improve their self-esteem, of support to return to work (“Job Clubs”), as well as subjects of general interest (“Contemporary Feminism”, “Arts & Crafts”, “The Art of Dress, Envy and Jealousy”).
This pattern reflects the ethos of the Centre, which has maintained both its unshakeable focus on women and its flexibility to adjust its offer according to their needs throughout the years.